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Buying or selling a house in France can be complicated.Le Francophile has compiled a glossary of French real estate terms as part of our Buying a House in France guides. 

Glossary of French Real Estate Terms

abonnement – standing charge


acompte – deposit, sum paid in advance

acte authentique – legal paper drawn up by a public officer empowered by law

acte sous seing privé – private agreement in writing with no witnesses

acte de vente – a conveyance or transfer of land

acquéreur – purchaser

acquérir – to buy

affaire – bargain

agence – agency

agence immobilière – qualified and regulated estate agent

agences immobilières à prix fixe – estate agents working on a fixed fee rather than comission

agents commerciaux -self-employed agent authorized by a qualified estate agent to act on his behalf

agent immobilier – real estate agent

alimentation – supply (water, electricity etc.)

aménager – to convert

aménagé – converted

ancien – old

à rénover – to renovate

à restaurer – to restore

arrondissement – administrative district of Paris

artisan carreleur – tiling expert

artisan maçon – builder

ascenseur – lift

atelier – workshop

attenant – contiguous

attestation d’acquisition – certificate that the property purchase was completed

attestation de propriété – proof of ownership of a property

attribution de juridiction – formal signing of a purchase contract

autorisation de prélèvement automatique – direct debit

bail – lease to tenant

bailleur – landlord

balcon – balcony

banque de consignation – the bank where the notary places the deposits

bâtiment – building

béton – concrete

bilan (de santé immobilier) – survey (house)

boiserie – woodwork

bon état – good condition

“bon pour achat” – following signature of contract (“good for acquisition”)

bord de mer – by the sea

bord de rivière – by the river

cadastre – town planning register recording details of land-holdings

campagne – country

carrelage – ceramic tiles

carte professionnelle – held by estate agents to carry out business

carte d’identité – identity card

caution – security deposit/guarantee

cave – cellar

cellier – store for wine and food

centre des impôts – tax office

certificat d’urbanisme – zoning certificate (equivalent to a local authority search)

cession – transfer of ownership or rights

chai – wine cellar

chambre – bedroom

charges comprises – service charges included

charpentier – carpenter

chantier – building site

chaudière – water heater

chauffage – heating

chauffage collectif – communal or shared heating

chauffe-eau – hot water tank

chaux – lime

chèque – cheque

cheminée – chimney

chêne – oak

clause particulière – special condition

clause pénale – penalty clause governing performance of an agreement

clause suspensive – conditional clause needed for the sale to reach completion

climatisation – air conditioning

cloison – partition

clôture – fence

colombage – half timbering

colombier – dovecote / pigeon house

comble – attic

commission comprise (C/C) – agency commission included

commission non comprise – agency commission not included

communauté – joint estate of a husband and wife

compromis de vente – contract for sale and purchase of land

comptant – cash purchase

compte séquestre – deposit in an escrow account pending certain conditions

compteur – meter for water, gas, electricity

conditions particulières – special conditions

conditions suspensives – conditional terms stated in the pre-sale agreement

conseiller fiscal – tax advisor

conservation des hypothèques – mortgage / land registry

constat d’huissier – factual statement by a bailiff which is irrefutable in court

constructible – land which is designated for building under local planning scheme

construire – to construct

contrat de réservation – the purchase contract used for purchase “on plan”

contrat préliminaire – preliminary contract 

convention – agreement

copropriété – co-ownership

cour – courtyard or yard

couvert – covered

couloir – corridor

crédit immobilier – mortgage

crépi – rendering

cuisine – kitchen

cuisine équipée – fitted kitchen

cuisine meublée – fully equipped kitchen

lefrancophile Glossary French real estate terms
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

dallage – paving

dalle – flag stone

date de livraison prévue – expected date of completion

débarras – box room

décennale – 10-year warranty provided by artisan

déclaration préalable – authorization required for works not subject to a building permit

délabré – dilapidated

déménagement – moving house

demeure – building, prestigious property

dépendance – outbuilding

dépôt de garantie – deposit paid when renting or buying a property

devis – bill estimate

disjoncteur – electric trip switch

dossier de diagnostic Technique (DDT)- mandatory survey carried out prior to sale

droit de passage – right of way

droit de préemption – pre-emptive right to acquire the property instead of purchaser

droit de succession / donation – inheritance / gift tax

droits d’enregistrement – stamp duty paid by the purchaser

Lefrancophile glossary french real estate terms
Image by gridkid from Pixabay

éclairage – lighting

écurie – stable

émoluments – the scale of charges of the notary

enregistrement (droits d’) – registration of the title of ownership

entretien – maintenance

équipé – equipped

escalier – stair

espace – space

étage – storey

état des lieux – inventory of fixtures (and conditions) in beginning or end of a lease

évier – kitchen sink

expert foncier – professional to check on the state and value of the property

fer – iron

ferme – farm

finitions – finishings

fioul – heating oil

FNAIM – national association of estate agents

fonds de roulement – capital supplied by flat-owners to meet unexpected liabilities

fosse septique – septic tank

foyer – fireplace

frais de notaire – total to be paid to the notary on top of the sale price

géomètre – surveyor to certify the dimensions of the property

gouttière – gutter

grange – barn

grenier – attic

haie – hedge

hors taxe (HT) – not including sales tax

huissier – bailiff or process server used to record evidence during legal proceedings

hypothèque – mortgage

indivision – joint-ownership

inter horaire – time switch

interrupteur – switch

isolation – insulation

jardin – garden

jouissance – right of possession occurring with the transfer of ownership

lavabo – wash basin

lave-mains – hand basin

laverie – laundry

lingerie – washing room

location – rental

location – renting (tenancy)

logement – accommodation

loi Scrivener – protects borrowers from lenders and sellers on property purchases

lotissement – housing estate

“lu et approuvé” – phrase accompanying signature of contract “read and approved”

maçon – builder

mairie – town hall

malfaçons – poor workmanship

mandat de recherche – agreement giving power to estate agent to look for property

mandataires immobilier – self-employed sales agents engaged by a suitably accredited estate agent.

marchand de biens – property dealer

mazout – domestic heating oil  

menuiserie – woodwork factory

meuble – furniture

moquette – carpet

mur – wall

lefrancophile glossary of french real estate terms door keys
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

neuf – new

néo-agences immobilières – fixed fee online estate agent

niveau – level

notaire – notary

occupant – occupant of the premises-tenant 

occupant sans droit ni titre-squatter

offre d’achat /de vente – offer to buy or sell property which is not a binding contract

paiement comptant – cash payment

papier peint – wallpaper

parquet – wood floor

parties communes – common parts of buildings

parties privatives – parts of the building restricted to the private use of the owner

peinture – paint

pelouse – lawn

permis de construire – planning permission

pièce – room

pierre – stone

pilier – pillar

piscine – swimming pool

placard – cabinet

plafond – ceiling

plain-pied – single storey

plâtre – plaster

plomberie – plumbing

plus-value – capital gain realized on the sale of the property

portail – garden gate

poutre – wooden beam

prélèvement – direct debit

prêt immobilier – mortgage

prise – electric socket

propriétaire – owner

propriété – property

raccord – connection

radiateur soufflant – fan heater

rénové – renovation

réservation – the deposit paid in a contract de réservation

réservation, contrat de – contract for the purchase of property

résiliation – cancellation of a contract

restauré – renovated

SAFER – national agricultural land agency with pre-emptive rights to buy land

salle de bain – bathroom

salon – living room

sécurité sociale – French national health system

séjour – living room

sol – ground

sous-sol – underground / basement

TTC – toutes taxes comprises – including sales tax

TVA – taxe sur la valeur ajoutée – value added tax

tantième – common areas of a copropriété owned with other apartment owners

tapis – carpet

taxe d’habitation – rate levied on the occupation of property

taxe foncière – local tax on the ownership of property

terrain – grounds

testament – a will

toit – roof

tontine – joint ownership

tout-à-l’égout – main drainage system

verger – orchard

vestibule – entrance hall

vice cachés – hidden defects that render the accommodation unsuitable for its residential use

vice dissimulé – defect concealed by the seller

vitre – glass

volet – shutter